Actress Ally Maki spoke with NextShark about starring as Haruka in the highly anticipated Marvel series “Hit-Monkey,” which comes out on Hulu on Wednesday.
The show, based on the Marvel character of the same name, takes place in Japan and is centered around a Japanese snow monkey determined to avenge his family.
The award-winning cast is predominantly Asian American and stars George Takei, Olivia Munn, Ally Maki, Nobi Nakanishi, Fred Tatasciore and Jason Sudeikis.
Marvel offered NextShark an exclusive first look at images of the show’s main characters:
Getting into production
The show began production before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the cast only meeting in person on a few occasions in early 2020 before adjusting to COVID-related shutdowns. Although the illustrators were able to continue their work remotely throughout the entire production process, actors needed to be split up during recording sessions.
Maki recalls sending text messages like “See you next time” and “Just missed you” to co-star Olivia Munn throughout their different work schedules.
Maki would have to come into the studio wearing protective gear, including, at one point, a box over her head. But the isolation that came with the pandemic also allowed her to get lost in her voiceover work and focus on the “heart, mind and spirit” of her character.
“There were moments where I was getting emotional in the booth,” Maki said. “The show does have those real moments. At its core, it’s a show about revenge. It’s about justice. It’s about standing up for what you believe in.”
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After a group of assassins kill his entire tribe, Hit-Monkey (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) embarks on a journey to seek justice for his family.
Jason Sudeikis voices an American hitman named Bryce who becomes Hit-Monkey’s mentor. After also being assasinated, the ghost of Bryce guides Hit-Monkey on his journey and teaches him the ways of a hitman.
George Takei and Olivia Munn also star in the main cast as politician Shinji Yokohama and his niece Akiko.
A Japanese American Cast
Ally Maki plays Haruka, an honest police officer from a small town who is new to the force, alongside Nobi Nakanishi, who voices Ito, the laughing stock of the police department known to have a bad drinking problem.
Maki, a fourth-generation Japanese American, said she looks up to co-star George Takei not only career-wise but also culturally. Her grandmother was sent to a Japanese internment camp as a teenager, similarly to Takei who was also sent to an internment camp as a child.
“There’s not many of us Japanese Americans, so it’s always exciting for me to meet and work with other people,” Maki said.
Maki said she loves how Haruka’s journey develops through the series. She collaborated with the show’s creators Josh Gordon and Will Speck to make her come to life.
“I really enjoyed that kind of arc of the story and her kind of finding her voice,” she said.
Haruka’s journey parallels her own in a lot of ways. Like Haruka, Maki was also thrown into a big city and was driven by big dreams.
“I moved out to LA and started pursuing acting at a young age,” she said. “At that time, there was very little representation of Asian American women [in entertainment].”
Maki said she’s excited to be a part of the new wave of Asian Americans taking over the big screen. Her favorite part is inspiring others to do the same.
“I always look back, and I imagine if I had those feelings of confidence and self worth of what I could accomplish at a young age, how much more I could have done,” she said.
This is her second Marvel project following her role as Mina Hess in the live-action TV series “Cloak & Dagger.”
All 10 episodes of the series will stream exclusively on Hulu beginning Nov. 17.
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